The British military death rate in Iraq is proportionally worse than that of the United States, for the first time since the 2003 invasion, The Sunday Telegraph newspaper said.
British troops were being killed at a proportionally greater rate than their American allies in recent months, the weekly broadsheet said.
It cited analysis by Professor Sheila Bird, the vice-president of the Royal Statistical Society, who studied British and American fatalities in Iraq from May 2006 to June 2007.
Britain has 5,500 troops in Iraq and lost 23 soldiers between February 5 and June 24 this year.
The United States has 165,000 troops there and suffered 463 fatalities over the same period “a proportionally lower toll,” the newspaper said.
Bird studied the three 140-day periods from May 2006 to June 2007 and factored in changes in troop numbers. British troops, who are based around Iraqï¿½s southern second city of Basra, have been reduced in number from 7,000 to 5,500.
In the latest period, there were 8.8 deaths ï¿½per 1,000 personnel-years,ï¿½ compared to 7.3 for the United States military.
Bird also found the death toll from roadside bombs was rising and such devices kill more British and US troops than any other method of attack.
“We should be looking carefully at what is happening to our military because they fight in our name and we should care about what is happening to them,” Bird said.
A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman argued: “It is too simplistic to try to compare losses from year to year, or to view losses over a six-month period and try to extrapolate meaningful conclusions for the future.”
Last week, Britain’s Lieutenant General Graeme Lamb, the deputy commander of coalition forces in Iraq, told the BBC: “UK troops are doubling our strike rates against the militias. We’ve doubled our arrests and as a result we’ve also increased our casualty rate.”
The Sunday Telegraph said the figures raised questions about what exactly British troops were doing in Iraq and what the government hoped to achieve by keeping them there, demanding urgent clarification from new Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
“Our troops continue to face appalling dangers in Iraq. There are few things as futile as sending men and women to die for a cause that has already been lost,” the weekly broadsheet said in its editorial.
A total of 159 British troops have died in Iraq since the March 2003 US-led invasion to oust dictator president Saddam Hussein from power.